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50-year Test

Rohm Theater Kyoto, one of the great works of Modernism architecture in Japan is actually within walking distance from YA's office. This building often makes me wonder if a real test of good architectural design is whether it will continue to be used favourably by people beyond its first 50-year life.

Formerly known as Kyoto Kaikan [Kyoto Public Auditorium], it was designed by Kunio Maekawa and completed in 1960. About 50 years later, during the 2010s, the building underwent a thorough renovation and remodel to reinvigorate its future life as the community's performance arts facility in line with the original design.

The original building's detail design, for instance, the cast-in-place exterior wall tiles and the deep roof overhangs in conjunction with the cantilevered balconies quietly remind us that durability is an essential value to good architectural design.

On a related note, this basic value of durability is what makes architects so keen on hardly noticeable or even concealed details. In conventional timber-framed building projects, for example, we architects make sure washers with spring or elastic rubber are used for coach bolt installations to address timber shrinkage that may cause loose structural connections. For plywood shear walls, architects check the nail spec, size, spacing, depth of overdriving, etc. to ensure the designed shear strength. In addition to structural components, there are numerous other items to be vefified during the construction process. All these small behind-the-scenes efforts by architects gear towards the building's durability.

Rohm Theater Kyoto, formerly known as Kyoto Kaikan designed by Kunio Maekawa. It was completed in 1960

Rohm Theater Kyoto's cast-in-place exterior wall tiles detail designed by Maekawa

To address lumber shrinkage, spring or elastic rubber washers are specified at coach bolt installations
Plywood shear wall nails are prone to be overdriven excessively, which should be avoided

Kenninji-style bamboo slat fences designed by YA
The fence's timber framing was designed to last

Custom stainless steel post base detail

Silicone rubber spacers to address weathering and shrinkage


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